Corrupted computer files forces delay in Crimo Jr. trial connected to Highland Park shootingBy Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media — April 7, 2023
Computer issues were blamed for the inability to share information between prosecution and defense attorneys, forcing a delay in the trial of Robert Crimo Jr., father of the alleged Highland Park shooter, Robert Crimo III.
Lake County Circuit Court Judge George D. Strickland, intent on moving the case along, set another date for June 11.
The 10-minute hearing, with one short recess, was the second appearance of Crimo Jr., since he was arrested in December on a felony reckless conduct charge. Still in the discovery stage, the case’s shared files from the prosecution contained “nearly 1 terabyte of information,” said George Gomez, Crimo Jr.’s attorney.
Prosecutors had previously requested an extension in February to compile the “voluminous” data, and provide it on a hard drive. Gomez said a faulty connection, when removing the drive from a USB port, ended up “corrupting the files.” When the prosecution attempted to replace the hard drive, their data became corrupted and unable to retrieve, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Facklam.
Strickland, who appeared intent upon moving the case along, asked, “Will the discovery process be completed in time for another hearing?”
He also questioned whether prosecutors needed more time for additional materials such as medical records for the more than three dozen people injured in the July 4 shooting.
“I doubt that we would use it,” said Facklam. He said evidence had been linked between the cases of the father and son and was to be shared in the data exchange. The medical records of the seven victims from the attack were already part of the data.
Crimo III is accused of planning and carrying out the mass shooting of parade goers on July 4 in Highland Park. He allegedly emptied nearly three 30-round ammunition clips from a semi-automatic weapon, on the rooftop of a downtown cosmetics building.
Strickland noted that unsealed federal documents also needed to be included, which included search warrants allegedly showing the son had planned to use explosives in the attack. Both sides said procedural motions would be filed to obtain the documents and complete the discovery process.
In 2019, law enforcement was called to the family home in Highwood, where the youth had threatened to kill “everyone” and himself. 16 knives and one samurai sword were confiscated from the premises, although no charges were filed.
In December of that year, Crimo Jr. sponsored his son to apply for a state firearm owner’s identification card, while underage, claiming the confiscated weapons were his won. In receiving the card, he used it to purchase the weapon from a store in Chicago. He remains housed at the Lake County Jail in Waukegan.
Crimo Jr. remains free after posting a $50,000 bond. The charges carry a sentence of one to three years, if found guilty, and up to $50,000 in punitive fines.
Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart did not appear at Tuesday’s court session, after leading the prosecution during the initial December hearing.
It has also been considered political overreach modeled on the case of James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of a 2021 school shooter in Michigan, who were charged with involuntary manslaughter. As of early March, their case is being heard at the state appellate level.
Following the Tuesday hearing, Gomez was asked if he felt the charges against Crimo Jr. were politically motivated and would be difficult to substantiate. “No comment,” he said.